SOTOGRANDE, SPAIN – Home soil has been a good recipe for Team Europe as they continue to dominate the 2022 Concession Cup. In previous years it has been Team USA that has dominated, but with two days of play underway Europe’s lead of 8.5 points to 3.5 points brings memories of the 1999 Ryder Cup at Brookline. Today was foursomes a, format familiar to the Europeans, but not as much to the US players. The alternate shot format allows each side to select who will drive on the odd holes while the other will take the tee shot on the even holes.
Team Europe started the day with the two finalists from the US Mid-Am, Mathew McClean and Hugh Foley, both from Ireland, who matched up against Team USA’s Tug Maude and Scott Turner. The match was back and forth with the Europeans making the turn with a one-up lead. The Americans won three of the next four holes to stand at one-up headed to the 14th tee before the Euros made four pars down the stretch which proved to be enough for a two-up victory.
Meanwhile, Rupert Kellock and Jody Fanagan beat their American opponents on the first hole, lost the 2nd, and never looked back ultimately winning six of the next 13 holes, only losing three. The European team notched a 4&3 victory over Team USA’s Matt Sughrue and Robert Funk. Surghrue and Funk tried to come back with birdies on the 9th and 13th, but the consistent play of Kellock and Fanagan still proved to be too much to overcome.
Match 3 was one of the most exciting of the foursome matches today with USA duo of Matt Mattare and Evan Beck matched against Moises Cobo and Leon Briemer from Team Europe. All tied at the turn, the US took holes 10 & 12 to go two up. After several holes tied it looked like Mattare and Beck would finish as victors, but Cobo and Briemer won the last two finishing holes and pulled even.
The only match Team USA won today was the Senior team of Mike McCoy and Rusty Strawn as they defeated the Senior European team of Mattias Pernheden and Martin Birkolz. The Americans took the early lead finishing the par-4 seventh hole up four, but the Europeans held them close getting back to only one down on the eleventh and thirteenth holes. McCoy, of Iowa, and Strawn, of Georgia, finished the match on the 17th hole with a par to secure their 2 & 1 win. The ever-changing weather conditions played a factor in each teams play.
The Mid-Amateur European team of Caolan Rafferty and Gregoire Schoeb claimed the victory and the largest margin over the Mid-Amateur United States team of Joseph Deraney and Brad Nurski. The Europeans took the early lead on the first hole and saw their lead grow to six up on the par-4 seventh. The Americans were able to hold on, making a birdie on the par-4 eighth and splitting the next three holes. Rafferty, of Ireland, and Schoeb, of France, made a birdie on the par-3 twelfth and finished out the match on the thirteenth hole 6 & 5. Deraney, of Mississippi, and Nurski, of Missouri, had a rough day conceding two holes early to give the Europeans the momentum they needed to win.
The final match of the day was a much-anticipated square off between senior titans. European’s Stephen Jenson and partner Trevor Foster took on the team from Georgia, Doug Hanzel and Bob Royak. The Europeans took an early one-up lead thru 3 holes, but the Americans rallied to win the next 3, and take a 2 up lead as they played the final holes on the front nine. A nice par saving putt on the 7th by Trevor Foster and a costly 3 putt on the 9th by the Americans made for the match to be tied heading toward the back nine. The Foster/Jensen team ran off three straight wins on holes 11-13 to go 3 up. The US team battled back by winning the 14th hole with a bogey. Two down with two to play Hanzel hit a perfect drive which left his partner Bob Royak with 230 yards into the breeze over the pond that protects the 17th green on the par 5 hole. With their opponents laying up, Royak had a go for the green in two; just barley clearing the pond. The team managed a birdie to take the match to hole 18 and play for the half point tie. Royak hit a wonderful 3 wood off the tee but just bounded into the rough. Trevor Foster’s drive started left but hit a native cork tee and bounced back towards the fairway. Still, with over 230 yards out Jenson hit a hybrid into the greenside bunker. Royak’s drive wandered into the rough with a difficult lie and a cork tree clearing in his path. The American struggled to navigate the trees and rough, finishing with a double bogey to lose the final foursome session with a lost day by Team USA.
With twelve singles matches to be played tomorrow before the trophy presentation, Captain Danny Yates from Team USA has a tall task to motivate his team, while European Captain Tore Sviland is working to keep his team focused with continued strong play to secure the Concession Cup.
About Amateur Golf Alliance: The Concession Cup Match was originally designed to bring top mid-amateur and seniors from across the USA and GB&I to compete in a Ryder Cup style event. The 2022 version of the Matches will see the expansion of the GB&I team to now include players from continental Europe. When played in 2024 the Match will include a women’s side. The “AGA” other mission was established to support and promote the amateur game via competitions providing amateur golfers throughout the globe more opportunities to compete at national and international events, and fund research and initiatives that will enhance the landscape of competitive amateur golf. The AGA is managed by Anera Sports out of its offices in Dallas, TX.
Real Club Valderrama: Opening in 1974 and designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr., Real Club Valderrama will host the 2022 Concession Cup for its first trip overseas. The Concession Club, in Bradenton, Florida, played host to the tournament in 2014, 2016, & 2018, and will play host again in 2024. Valderrama, originally known as Las Aves, hosted the 32nd Ryder Cup in 1997, the first two editions of the World Golf Championship (American Express Championship), currently hosts the DP Tour’s Andalucía Masters, and is continually ranked among the top-rated golf courses in mainland Europe and the World.